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US Supreme Court Green Lights Trump’s Immigrant Wealth Policy

Protesting Trump Immigration Policies at the US Embassy
Protesting Trump Immigration Policies at the US Embassy (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

The ruling will give the United States government increased power to reject green card applications even if there is only a suspicion that the applicants may need financial assistance in some form.

The United States Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5-4 to allow one of President Trump’s most controversial immigration policies to stand while it faces legal contestation across the country. The law makes it legal for the United States to deny green cards if the government suspects the legal immigrants would make use of social welfare services such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Five conservative court justices voted to lift an injunction on the controversial law and allow the government to carry out the law in every state except Illinois. The concurring brief written by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas gave little commentary on the legality of the law, instead, they commented on what the conservative justices deem as overreaching lower courts.

The ruling extends what is known as the “public charge” and it will give the United States government increased power to reject green card applications even if there is only a suspicion that the applicants may need financial assistance in some form.


Immigrant activists have decried that the new ruling will unfairly target non-wealthy immigrants from poorer countries, and others pointed to racist undertones in the law.

Prominent Democrats took to Twitter to outline their opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision and President Trump’s pursuit of the law.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted a personal story and said, “my father came to America at 17 without a nickel, speaking no English. He grew up to be the proudest American you ever saw. Trump’s policy is disgraceful. It is not what America is about. We will defeat him and end his demonization of immigrants and the poor.”

Former refugee and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar invoked a poem written to raise funds for the Statue of Liberty in her tweet, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also commented, “this is shameful. America shouldn’t have a wealth test for admission. It’s a place where millions of people are descendants of immigrants who came w(ith) nothing & made a life. The American Dream isn’t a private club with a cover charge – it’s the possibility of remaking your future.”

While several high-profile Democrats have made statements on social media, the furor around President Trump’s impeachment and many Democratic Senators focus on it could distract from the multiple big moves Trump is taking on the immigration front.

Court Packing

The ruling demonstrates the impact of successful Republican efforts to pack the judiciary. While this ‘immigrant wealth’ case had already been tried and defeated in multiple states, since Trump swung the Supreme Court with nominations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh several key decisions have tipped in the Republicans favor thanks to the Supreme Court.

Having a healthy majority in the Supreme Court as well as other key federal courts has been the lifelong goal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell famously held off President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, which in turn became Neil Gorsuch’s spot, Trump’s first Supreme Court Justice appointee.

Without hesitation, McConnell stated that he would appoint a Supreme Court Justice in the last year of a Republican presidential term. Mainstream pundits decried the hypocrisy of McConnell’s statement, however, this fundamentally misses the point of McConnell’s mission, which has been at all costs to leave the most lasting ideological legacy he can have by packing the courts.

Democrats have been slow or unwilling to adapt to McConnell and the Republican’s court-packing strategy which takes the form of think thanks and legacy PACs which disseminate Republican ideals in the form of recommended court picks.

If the Democrat Party truly cares about the future of immigrants in the United States, it will have to counter the tactics of Mitch McConnell.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.

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